Review: John Craigie at the Sound Lounge

John Craigie’s gig at the Sound Lounge in Tooting managed to draw a crowd of around twenty people. 

Was it the fact it was a Tuesday night? Was it that he just isn’t that well known in the UK?

Whatever the reason, it’s frustrating,  because the man is one of the most talented artists I have seen perform in a long time.

I often wonder how many people sat in pubs around London six years ago talking loudly and ignoring the pot-bellied ginger kid singing, before walking out halfway through.

Anyway, when John Craigie took to the stage to perform his new album, ‘No Rain, No Rose’ no one started talking; they sat in amazement.

It was a genuinely beautiful demonstration by the modern-day troubadour of what music should be and you can tell how hard he has worked to hone his craft.

With his guitar and harmonica in hand, his style is reminiscent of Dylan’s, who has clearly been a key influence on John.

The phantasmagoric imagery created in his music takes you back to the work of the Pulitzer prize winner.

To be clear, he is not a tribute act and very much stands alongside artists like Dylan. The main singles from his album ‘I am California’ and ‘Broken’ proved this point.

‘I am California’ was my favorite song from his album.  It is ultimately him saying that you can take the man out of California but you can’t take California out of the man.  The fact that it sounded better live is testament to his talent.

He has a catalogue of songs like ‘Rough Johns’ and ‘Gone’ that are written in the same vein so there was a worry that the gig, which lasted an hour and a half, could become heavy going.

However, John gives a comical explanation of every track that he has written, before he performs it and he has quite a few jovial songs thrown into the performance.

One that sticks out in particular is called ‘Apollo 11’, which is about one of his dad’s oldest friends from school, Michael Collins. Who’s that you may ask?

Michael Collins was on the moon mission with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin but he never got to step onto the moon’s surface because according to John he was told to ‘keep watch.’

The song is essentially a funny spin on normal people who have done incredible things, but are not recognized by history.

After seeing him perform live for the first time, I do genuinely hope that John is not going to suffer the same fate as Michael, as his star needs to be seen shining brightly by everyone.

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